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The Great Ilocos Flood of 1867

Part of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies book series (IOWS)

Abstract

This chapter examines a huge flood in the Northwest Philippines caused by a typhoon during the strong El Niño of 1867. The ‘great flood’ for nineteenth-century inhabitants of the Ilocos region occurred on 25–27 September 1867. The typhoon sent a huge amount of water rushing down the hills of the Abra Valley. This extraordinary flood, with waters reaching a height of 25 meters (82 feet) above normal level, killed 1800 persons and many thousands more draft animals. The newspaper accounts following the disaster and the urgent reports sent by the provincial governor led the Manila authorities to declare a state of emergency. The colonial government launched a public subscription in the Philippines and Spain to meet the relief and recovery needs of the people of Ilocos. The chapter also briefly recounts the deeds of a remarkable female first responder who saved several hundred lives during the flood.

Keywords

  • Abra River
  • Philippine typhoons
  • El Niño
  • Great Ilocos flood
  • Valentina Mendoza

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Fig. 7.1

Drawn by Philip Gooding

Notes

  1. 1.

    John Hay, David Easterling, Kristie L. Ebi, Akio Kitoh, and Martin Parry, ‘Conclusion to the Special Issue: Observed and Projected Changes in Weather and Climate Extremes,’ Weather and Climate Extremes, 11 (2016), 103–5.

  2. 2.

    Brian Fagan, Floods, Famines and Emperors: El Niño and the Fate of Civilizations (New York: Basic Books, 1999); Michael Glantz, Currents of Change: El Niño’s Impact on Climate Variability and Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

  3. 3.

    Ross Couper-Johnston, El Niño: The Weather Phenomenon That Changed the World (London: Coronet, 2001), 13. See also: Chapter by Clarence-Smith, this volume.

  4. 4.

    See, for example: Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (London: Verso, 2001); Richard Grove and John Chappell (eds.), El Niño: History and Crisis (Cambridge: White Horse Press, 2000); Richard Grove and George Adamson, El Niño in World History (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 93–104; Chapters by Clarence-Smith, Gooding, Ventura, and Williamson, this volume.

  5. 5.

    James B. Elsner and Kam-biu Liu, ‘Examining the ENSO-Typhoon Hypothesis,’ Climate Research, 25 (2003), 43–54.

  6. 6.

    Irenea L. Corporal-Lodangco, Lance M. Leslie, and Peter J. Lamb, ‘Impacts of ENSO on Philippine Tropical Cyclone Activity,’ Journal of Climate, 29 (2016), 1877–97.

  7. 7.

    Ma. Theresa M. Alders, ‘Floodwaters of Death: Vulnerability and Disaster in Ormoc City, Philippines: Assessing the 1991 Flood and Twenty Years of Recovery’ (Unpublished PhD diss., Murdoch University, 2017), 2.

  8. 8.

    Grove and Adamson, El Niño in World History, pp. 96–97.

  9. 9.

    ‘Official Report: Ministry of Overseas Affairs,’ La Esperanza (19 Dec. 1867).

  10. 10.

    ‘Philippine Islands: Overseas,’ La Espana (17 Dec. 1867), 1–2.

  11. 11.

    Ed. C. de Jesus, The Tobacco Monopoly in the Philippines: Bureaucratic Enterprise and Social Change, 1766–1880 (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1980), 22–46; John A. Larkin, The Pampangans: Colonial Society in a Philippine Province (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1993), 41–62.

  12. 12.

    Frederick L. Wernstedt and Joseph E. Spencer, The Philippine Island World: A Physical, Cultural and Regional Geography (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1967), 332–33.

  13. 13.

    Miguel Selga, Charts of Remarkable Typhoons in the Philippines, 1902–1934, Catalogue of Typhoons 1348–1934 (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1935), 35.

  14. 14.

    Archives of the Manila Observatory (hereafter: AMO), Selga collection, Bx.10, It. 37 ‘Floods,’ 25–27 Sep. 1867, 14.

  15. 15.

    Ibid.

  16. 16.

    AMO Selga collection, Bx.10, It. 47 ‘Records of floods in the Philippines, 1691–1911,’ 14.

  17. 17.

    ‘Philippine Islands: Overseas,’ 1–2.

  18. 18.

    Ibid.

  19. 19.

    Ibid.

  20. 20.

    Ibid.

  21. 21.

    ‘Official Report: Ministry of Overseas Affairs,’ 2–3.

  22. 22.

    Ibid.

  23. 23.

    Ibid.

  24. 24.

    Ibid.

  25. 25.

    ‘Philippine Islands: Overseas,’ 1–2.

  26. 26.

    Ibid.

  27. 27.

    Ibid.

  28. 28.

    ‘Official Report: Ministry of Overseas Affairs,’ 2–3.

  29. 29.

    See: Linda A. Newsom, Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippines (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2009); Dean C. Worcester, A History of Asiatic Cholera in the Philippine Islands (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1908), 3–15; Ken De Bevoise, Agents of Apocalypse: Epidemic Disease in the Colonial Philippines (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 164–84.

  30. 30.

    ‘Official Report: Ministry of Overseas Affairs,’ 2–3.

  31. 31.

    ‘Philippine Islands: Overseas,’ 1–2.

  32. 32.

    ‘Official Report: Ministry of Overseas Affairs,’ 2–3.

  33. 33.

    Ibid.

  34. 34.

    ‘Philippine Islands: Overseas,’ 1–2.

  35. 35.

    Selga, Charts of Remarkable Typhoons, 35.

  36. 36.

    ‘Philippine Islands: Overseas,’ 1–2.

  37. 37.

    See: Norman G. Owen, Death and Disease in Southeast Asia: Explorations in Social, Medical and Demographic History (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1987), 8–16; Luis Dery, Pestilence in the Philippines: A Social History of the Filipino People, 1571–1800 (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 2006), 57–144; Newsom, Conquest and Pestilence, 16–52.

  38. 38.

    ‘Philippine Islands: Overseas,’ 1–2.

  39. 39.

    Ibid.

  40. 40.

    ‘Official Report: Ministry of Overseas Affairs,’ 2–3.

  41. 41.

    See: A. Henderson-Sellers, H. Zhang, G. Berz, K. Emanuel, W. Gray, C. Lansea, G. Holland, J. Lighthill, S.-L. Shieh, P. Webster, and K. McGuffie, ‘Tropical Cyclones and Global Climate Change: A Post-IPCC Assessment,’ Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 79 (1998), 19–28.

  42. 42.

    See: Susana Maria Ramirez Martin, El Terremoto de Manila de 1863 Medidas Politicas y Economicas (Madrid: Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas, 2006), 37–56.

  43. 43.

    National Archives of the Philippines (hereafter: NAP), folios S244–S245 Don Fernando de Santa Coloma to the King of Spain, 15 June 1868, in ‘Valentina Mendosa Provides for Flood Victims,’ Varia Provincias-Ilocos Sur, 1796–1898.

  44. 44.

    ‘Philippine Islands: Overseas,’ La Esperanza (31 Dec. 1867).

  45. 45.

    ‘Overseas,’ La Espana (31 Dec. 1867), 2.

  46. 46.

    Ibid.

  47. 47.

    ‘Official Report: General Committee for Aid for the Philippines and Puerto Rico,’ La Esperanza (20 Dec. 1867), 2.

  48. 48.

    Orlando Pérez, Notes on the Tropical Cyclones of Puerto Rico, 1508–1970 (Pre-printed) (Report. National Weather Service), 16: https://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/data_sub/perez_11_20.pdf [accessed: 16 Apr. 2021].

  49. 49.

    ‘Overseas,’ 2.

  50. 50.

    ‘Official Report: General Committee for Aid,’ 2.

  51. 51.

    ‘Official Report: Ministry of Overseas Affairs,’ 2–3.

  52. 52.

    ‘Official Report: General Committee for Aid,’ 2.

  53. 53.

    Ibid.

  54. 54.

    Ibid.

  55. 55.

    El Imparcial (13 Jan. 1868), 2.

  56. 56.

    ‘Philippine Islands: Overseas,’ 2.

  57. 57.

    ‘Official Report: Ministry of Overseas Affairs,’ 2–3.

  58. 58.

    NAP folios S203–S245 ‘Valentina Mendosa Provides for Flood Victims,’ Varias Provincias-Ilocos Sur, 1796–1898.

  59. 59.

    NAP folios S244–S245 Don Fernando de Santa Coloma to the King of Spain, 15 June 1868 in ‘Valentina Mendosa Provides for Flood Victims,’ Varias Provincias-Ilocos Sur, 1796–1898.

  60. 60.

    Kai T. Erikson, Everything in Its Path: Destruction of Community in the Buffalo Creek Flood (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976).

  61. 61.

    Ibid., 6.

  62. 62.

    Geraldine Brooks, The Idea of Home: Boyer Lectures 2011 (Sydney: HarperCollins, 2011), 28.

  63. 63.

    Greg Bankoff, Cultures of Disaster: Society and Natural Hazard in the Philippines (London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003), 17. See also: F.J. Aguilar Jr., ‘Disasters as Contingent Events: Volcanic Eruptions, State Advisories, and Public Participation in the Twentieth-Century Philippines,’ Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints, 64, 3–4 (2016), 593–624. For more on the Taal eruption, see: Chapter by Ventura, this volume.

  64. 64.

    Erikson, Everything in Its Path, 163–64, 185.

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Warren, J.F. (2022). The Great Ilocos Flood of 1867. In: Gooding, P. (eds) Droughts, Floods, and Global Climatic Anomalies in the Indian Ocean World. Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-98198-3_7

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